Matthew Knott, News Editor of StudyTravel Magazine
Opinion... from the News Editor

I'm back at the news desk this week after attending a couple of industry events, including Spanish agency association Aseproce's annual workshop, where it also celebrated its 30th anniversary.

A healthy gathering of Aseproce member agencies, IALC-accredited language providers and UK boarding schools was certainly embellished by the warm autumn sunshine in Madrid and the anniversary celebrations.


It does seem that there have been a remarkable range of landmark birthdays in the industry this year for pioneering schools, agencies and associations, a reflection of the way that the sector was formalising and professionalising 20-to-30 years ago.


To this end, we will be highlighting some of these anniversaries in the December issue of StudyTravel Magazine, so do keep an eye out for that.  


Paying tribute to the founders of Aseproce, current President, Oscar Porras, said it was borne out of the desire of a small group of agents to work together and be stronger for the greater good of the industry.


And we have a very timely and entertaining 'View from the desk of.' article this week from Adrian Liley, Director of recently formed online agency SuperCourses. Adrian has seen the sector on both sides over a long career, and writes about changes - and constants - in the way that schools market to agents.


And I do urge you to check out our wealth of guest articles and industry interviews in the 'View from the desk of.' section.  


Coming back to Aseproce, we heard of mixed trends in the junior business, with the repeated claim that the mini-stay trend of high schools groups - barely an educational product at five days - is eating into the summer young learner sector, the core business for many Spanish agents.


In the long-run, the mini-stays may give potential future students the bug for travelling and studying abroad, but for now it seems parents are scaling back on the summer courses if their child has already been on a mini-stay. Of course, some agencies are promoting mini-stays, so it is a double-edged sword!


Commenting on future trends, Oscar told me that Spanish agents and students were a little bored with the standard product and were looking for subject-specific offerings and innovations.


Right on cue, we have news this week of a new English plus Robotics and Coding course in Ireland from 2018! Apple CEO Tim Cook recently commented that learning coding was more important than learning English as a second language. I couldn't agree with that, but it is handy to know the two can be combined!


Elsewhere this week, we have news of a new free online MOOC for agents being offered by the British Council, open to anyone but designed for new counsellors at agencies.


And we have a report on the student housing sector from Savills and showing that the U.S. cities of Boston, New York and San Francisco are the most expensive for international university students, based on undergraduate STEM degree fees and purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) lodging.


Investment in student housing was reportedly at a record level in 2016, but an interesting statistic for me was that the UK has by far the highest ratio of beds in PBSA to total number of students at 24 per cent, compared with only six per cent in Australia.


This may be due to the historical tendency of UK students to move in order to go to university - a rite of passage in escaping the family home! But it is something that Australia will need to address in order to meet its international education strategy targets.


Also this week, Expanish has opened a new Spanish language school in Barcelona, and a new International House school will open in Toronto in January.


Happy reading!



Matthew Knott

News Editor